26 Jul Why you should hire a composer
If you are a filmmaker, surely you know that saying that music (or audio) is 50% of your video, or at least should be. But although most of us agree with this statement, we don’t always put the same effort and enthusiasm in choosing the music that accompanies our images as we put in to shooting them.
For me, music has a vital importance in my films, it is not a simple accompaniment or a track to place over clips. The right music has the ability to enhance the images, but an inappropriate composition can detract or even reduce the impact of the visuals. Choosing music is therefore fundamental, since the success of your work depends largely on it.
In recent years I have published dozens of self-produced videos, and in the beginning, as we all did with the YouTube and Vimeo boom, I turned to songs by famous composers to edit my videos. This was a rather usual procedure at the time, but also a bit controversial, because “Time-lapses” or short films were not commercial in nature, some musicians sometimes complained because we, the filmmakers, used their works without permission. For quite some time both Youtube and Vimeo turned a blind eye, since these videos generated millions of visits, and that always generates a healthy income. This all changed a few years ago when both platforms prohibited the uploading of videos whose owner did not have the legal rights to the music appearing in them.
This benefited broadly, and precisely the musicians and composers, who up to now saw their rights repeatedly violated and could hardly generate income from the sale of their songs. While the big stars did not care much about the previous situation, small creators or emerging musicians were suffering quite a lot of damage.
With this new situation, most filmmakers began to use stock music, which has quite competitive prices, but in most cases lacks the quality of great composers.
It was proving very difficult to find music on stock websites and herein lies the main reason that I have been hiring composers to work exclusively for my films for the last few years. Filmmakers use the same song even for similar videos, there have been very curious cases in this regard.
This is something that will not happen to you if you hire a composer, after negotiations with them, you can obtain the exclusive rights of the composition or at least determine a time of lack or some type of restriction in the license. This will also make selling your short film much simpler, since you already have the rights to the music, you will not have to pay a license extension should a company want to license your work.
I think that the main reason that every filmmaker who appreciates their film, whether it be a short, a timelapse or a feature film, must hire a composer is because only the close collaboration between director and composer will create the perfect synergy between images and music. If the composer is talented and you make them see what you want to communicate or express with your images, they will compose an exclusive piece that adapts precisely to your film, generating in the viewer a feeling of perfect synchrony and balance.
It is certainly a longer and more complicated process, the deadlines are longer, and if the composer does not reside in your country, as is often the case, the number of emails and versions can be overwhelming. The feeling of controlling the whole process and also being part of the musical creation, however, totally deserves the effort.
In my last timelapse, I wanted to use real instruments, so we hired both a violinist and a cellist and recorded it in a professional studio. This not only increased the quality of the sound, but thanks to the talent of the musicians, they impressed on the music a special character and emotion. I think anyone who sees my videos realises that the music has something special, that the sound is quite good and that it integrates perfectly with the image. That, to me, is proof that hiring a composer is a great idea and deserves the effort.